Our can businesses accounted for 89 percent of our total energy consumption in 2012. In these businesses, we measure our energy efficiency on a “per unit of production” basis. We improved energy efficiency by 4.2 percent during 2011 and 2012. In our slug and aerospace businesses, we also achieved significant energy efficiency improvements of 10 percent and more.
To significantly and cost effectively reduce our energy consumption, we developed a global energy strategy in 2011. It addresses energy supply and demand and requires the consideration of energy efficiency when making investment decisions.
A Multifaceted Approach
During 2011 and 2012, we implemented projects in all of our global operations to increase energy efficiency and decrease costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These efforts included educational measures and optimizing machinery and processes as well as capital investment projects, such as replacing older equipment with more energy efficient units.
Ball invested approximately $19 million in energy savings projects between 2010 and 2012. These measures will result in estimated annual electricity savings of more than 61 million kilowatt hours and annual natural gas savings of approximately 77 million kilowatt hours. These savings exceed the annual energy consumption of more than 5,200 average U.S. households.
While our energy performance has significantly improved over the reporting period, we also recognize that changes in our businesses can negatively impact the energy efficiency of our operations. Those developments included new line startups in our Belgrade, Serbia, and Fort Worth, Texas, plants in 2011; increasing the variety of can sizes and shapes we produce; and curtailing operations in some plants, which reduced utilization and efficiency.
As a global company, we benefit greatly from exchanging information and best practices among our 64 manufacturing locations. Membership in programs, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Energy Star” and Department of Energy “Better Buildings, Better Plants,” provide further tools and technical resources to enhance our efforts and allow us to learn from other organizations.
We significantly improved energy data measurement and reporting capabilities during the reporting period. At the end of 2011, we had installed comprehensive energy information systems (EIS) in 13 plants which enable us to better understand and manage the energy consuming processes in our operations and improve total system performance. Other plants are realizing significant energy savings using smaller scope energy monitoring. We will install additional energy monitoring devices in our operations going forward.
One focus area for improvement during the reporting period was line control optimization. When production lines stand still for a short period of time, not all of the equipment has to run on full power. By installing equipment that allows slowing or shutting down certain systems, such as variable-frequency drives (VFD) that control the speed of motors and pumps, we realize energy savings.
Employee Awareness and Engagement
In all our facilities, Ball employees focus on energy efficiency. Several Ball plants started formal voluntary energy conservation or broader sustainability teams during the reporting period. Our Saratoga Springs, New York, and Weißenthurm, Germany, plants have been actively engaged in energy efficiency for more than a decade. Their commitment to develop and test new ideas contributed to maximizing the value of our existing businesses.
Machinery and Equipment
In an aluminum beverage can manufacturing plant, between 20 and 30 percent of the overall electricity used is consumed by air compressors. We conduct audits of our compressed air systems, reduce system pressure, minimize wasteful air uses and leaks, regulate volume and pressure and reduce demand by manufacturing equipment to optimize performance. Twenty-one of our metal beverage packaging plants worldwide now use dual air systems that supply equipment with either high or low pressure air to reduce energy use and costs.
In North America, Asia and Europe, we replaced eight older compressors with more energy efficient models in 2010 and 2011, sometimes replacing high-pressure compressors with low-pressure units at the same time. These investments of approximately $2 million will save 6.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, which corresponds to approximately 4,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Ovens can account for up to 75 percent of a beverage can plant’s natural gas use and up to 20 percent of electricity use. We typically use ovens after washing and applying coatings and inks so that the containers can be further processed. During the reporting period, Ball engineers developed several innovative approaches to reduce the energy consumption of ovens. We also performed oven audits in all of our European beverage can plants, identifying opportunities to substantially reduce gas consumption. We are committed to executing related projects in 2012 and expect to realize natural gas savings of approximately 10 million kilowatt hours per year, equivalent to approximately 1,900 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Ball Aerospace accounts for only 2 percent of Ball’s energy consumption, but optimization of energy use is a high priority for this business. One of the major areas of energy use occurs in cleanroom operations. These are rooms where the level of environmental pollutants such as dust and microbes is reduced to allow for the manufacture and testing of sensitive aerospace instruments and other technologies. During the reporting period, we installed VFDs to control the operation of supply fan motors within one of the larger cleanrooms. The estimated reduction in electricity is approximately 277,400 kilowatt hours per year, equivalent to more than 190 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
A regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO) is a pollution control system that uses high temperatures to destroy volatile organic compounds emitted during can coating processes. RTOs normally operate on natural gas. When Ball bought the Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, metal beverage can plant in 2009, the plant’s heat recovery system did not operate efficiently. In 2010, Ball invested more than $300,000 to install additional controls and replaced ineffective heat recovery coils. This system is used today to heat water in the production process, as well as to heat the plant itself. The system reduces the plant’s natural gas use by approximately 8 million kilowatt hours per year.
Heating and Cooling
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) control during the heating season has been identified as another energy efficiency opportunity. Central control systems and higher awareness of HVAC-related energy usage and costs are driving progress. We identify optimal temperatures for different areas within a plant and educate employees on how these temperatures can be achieved with the lowest energy input. The installation of heat curtains, for example, reduces heat or cooling loss.
Ball continues to replace old lighting with energy efficient lighting. Our plant in Shenzhen, China, for example, replaced 450-watt ceiling lighting with equally bright 180-watt lamps, saving 460,000 kilowatt hours annually.
Reducing our Corporate Carbon Footprint
In 2012, our Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions totaled 1,310,254 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Our carbon intensity, which is calculated based on our division specific normalization factors, decreased by 4.8 percent since our 2010 baseline year. About 70 percent of our GHG emissions result from our electricity consumption.
Our management and reporting systems, including internal audits, ensure the accuracy and reliability of our environmental information. We appointed WSP Environment & Energy in 2012 to provide independent assurance of Ball’s GHG emission data. WSP’s scope of work was to provide limited assurance of Ball’s Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions in line with the guidelines set forth in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. WSP’s assurance statement can be viewed here.
A high level of transparency on our sustainability performance, and our corporate carbon footprint in particular, is important to ensure our customers understand our sustainability commitments and how we contribute to their own targets. Since 2007, we have disclosed our GHG emissions annually through the Carbon Disclosure Project. Today, we submit information to three of CDP’s programs: Climate Change (investors), Supply Chain and Water.
Prof. Dr. Udo Gieseler
University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Germany
You analyzed innovative strategies for Ball to develop energy self-sufficient plants. Based on your insights, what do you consider to be major challenges for Ball so we can significantly enhance energy efficiency?
Half of the energy demand at Ball’s beverage can plants is supplied by natural gas, used mainly by ovens after washing and decorating. Our team has identified measures for improving the energy efficiency of curing, reducing the energy consumption by about 80 percent. One of the major remaining steps is the reduction of the discharged air. In the long-term, Ball should evaluate using infrared drying or UV-curing inks, which can lead to significant energy savings by requiring less heat for drying.
Another huge opportunity involves applying several efficiency measures at compressors, which can reduce the electricity demand by 50 percent (pressure loss, leaks, intake temperature, filter, engines). About 60 percent of the waste heat from the compressors can be used for other processes. In the long-term, Ball should consider replacing compressed air with electro-mechanical drives, which can reduce energy demand by 80 percent.